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Debris basin getting landscape conversion

September 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles County workers are still clearing debris from the big Station Fire two years ago that burned more than 250 square miles. Much of the debris is ending up in special landfills. One of them is getting a new look.

All year long Los Angeles County is busy at work preparing for winter's wrath: Mother Nature's storms and mudslides. That's why they've engineered basins to catch the debris and prevent flooding of the homes below.

And when it needs to be emptied, the dirt piles up, creating a mound at Markridge Road and Dunsmore Avenue in Glendale. It's been fenced off for years, but caused concern among some residents who question its stability.

"We compact it down to about over 95-percent compaction, so that makes the hillside very stable," said Arthur Vander Vis, principal engineer for L.A. County Public Works. "We've got drainage systems in place. You can see that it's done in lifts. There's benches. It traps the water so the water doesn't run down the side of the slope and erode it."

It's all to prevent incidents like when a nearby debris basin filled up during a storm and boulders came crashing down into the homes below.

"There have been some close calls, so we've been pretty scared about that, but besides that, we're fairly comfortable living here," said Hans Kim, who lives in the neighborhood.

There's still a lot of room, enough to accommodate 20,000 more truckloads of dirt. But for the parts that are filled in, the city and county are going to work together to decide what to do with the open space.

"That would be fine, as long as it would still serve the purpose that it was made for," said local resident Lionel Hammermeister.

The first phase of landscaping is scheduled to be completed in April 2013 at a cost of $1.2 million to $1.5 million. It could be a park, trails or some kind of recreation area.

And although some neighbors have complained about the constant stream of dump trucks moving the dirt, others say they understand the need for it.

"I know they have to do it, so I can't complain about them being an inconvenience to me," said Kim.

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